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  • Felicia Quintero

Delight Your Guests: Setting a Formal Holiday Dinner Table!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Gathering around a festive dinner table with family and friends is certainly one of the highlights of the season. And what better way to show your guests how much you care than by setting a beautiful formal dining table to enjoy your delicious holiday meal?

No matter how many guests you’re hosting, the right table decor can elevate your holiday feast and make guests feel extra special. In this blog post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to host an unforgettable holiday dinner. We’ll explore the basics of table setting etiquette, proper dishes and glassware, and ideas for creative centerpieces!

By the time you’re done reading this, you’ll be a holiday dinner-hosting pro, ready to wow your guests with your impeccable table-setting skills!

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The First Step: Get Organized


Hosting a formal holiday dinner doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, if you have a few simple guidelines and some creative ideas, you can create a table setting that will be the talk of the town!

First things first: you’ll want to decide on a style so you can create a cohesive look. Do you want to host a traditional dinner with china or would you prefer a more modern look? Decide on a style that reflects your personal taste and the tone you want to set for the dinner.

Once you’ve decided on a style, you’ll need to choose the right dishes, glasses, silverware, and table linens. These items should be chosen to complement each other- consider color schemes and patterns that work well together. You’ll also want to think about how to properly place the silverware and how to choose festive napkins. Finally, you’ll need to decide on a centerpiece that will tie the whole look together.

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Etiquette 101: Formal Table Setting Dos and Don'ts


Table-setting rules and etiquette may seem like a daunting subject, but it’s actually pretty straightforward once you understand the basics. Here are a few basic rules to keep in mind as you master the art of setting a formal table:

  • Get your table looking festive and fancy by starting with the tablecloth, charger plates, and napkins.

  • Arrange the silverware following the order of courses and work from the outer utensils inward. For example, the salad fork goes to the left of the dinner fork, and the soup spoon goes to the right of the dinner knife. Boom - silverware placement mastery achieved!

  • Make sure the glasses are in the right spot - above the top right of the dinner plate, with the water glass closest to the plate and the wine glass furthest away. This way, you won't have to reach across the table for a sip (because who wants to do that?).

  • Don't forget the bread plate and butter knife to the left of the dinner plate, and the dessert fork and spoon above the plate if dessert is on the menu. Everything in its proper place = a well-organized holiday feast.

  • Leave some breathing room between utensils and glasses for a clean and uncluttered look. The key to creating the perfect table setting is to keep it simple and elegant.

  • Avoid going overboard with too many dishes, glasses, and decor items. Remember, less is often more in a formal setting. Keep it classy, folks!

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Choosing the Right Dishes and Glasses


When selecting dishes and glasses for formal settings, china, crystal, and silverware are classic choices and add a touch of elegance and refinement to the table. Here are some tips for choosing dishes and glasses for your formal holiday dinner table:

  • When selecting china, it’s best to choose timeless pieces that compliment your napkins, table runners, and placemats. You can choose plain white china or opt for a more colorful pattern.

  • If you’re using crystal, you’ll want to choose pieces that are classic yet festive. Look for pieces with a festive pattern or an etched design. You can also choose colored crystal pieces in festive colors such as red, green, or gold or intricate stemware.

  • You’ll want to choose silverware that works well with the menu. For example, if you’re serving soup, you’ll want to include spoons.

  • Pro tip: it’s never a bad idea to have a few extra place settings on hand, in case of any mishaps or unexpected guests!

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Adding Festive Flair: The Perfect Table Linens


Now it’s time to spruce up your holiday dinner table with some fun and functional linens. Not only do table linens add color and texture to the setting, but they also protect the table from spills and messes! For a formal setting, it’s all about finding table linens that are both festive and elegant. Here’s how to do it:

  • Choose a tablecloth that’s both stylish and functional. Bring some holiday cheer to the table with a festive pattern or pop of color in a classic holiday hue.

  • Next, consider adding a table runner for some extra personality and a touch of coordination with the rest of the colors on the table.

  • Just be sure your tablecloth and runner fit your table length perfectly- no one wants a too-short or too-long tablecloth ruining the vibe.

  • Placemats can protect your table from spills and stains while adding a decorative touch. Up the sophistication factor with elegant placemats made of fine cloth or lace.

  • Cloth napkins can be folded in a variety of decorative ways, such as a simple triangle fold or a more elaborate design. You can also use decorative napkin rings to complement your table presentation.

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Creative Centerpieces


A well-placed and thoughtfully designed centerpiece can enhance the overall ambiance of your holiday dinner and tie the table setting together! It’s important to ensure that your centerpiece is well-balanced and does not obstruct the view or interaction of guests around the table. Here are a few creative centerpiece ideas to provide your guests with an aesthetically pleasing view:

  • Dress up your holiday table with a classic fresh floral arrangement with festive flowers in holiday colors.

  • Arrange a candle centerpiece by using a collection of candles in various shapes and sizes to create a warm and cozy eye-catching display.

  • Add some seasonal flair with a festive fruit bowl filled with apples, oranges, pomegranates and other natural elements like pinecones or cranberries.

  • Show off your holiday spirit by displaying an assortment of festive holiday figurines and ornaments.

  • Mix and match! The possibilities are endless, so have fun and get creative with a centerpiece that will enhance your formal dinner table.

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Congrats! Your holiday dinner table just got an upgrade and you’re a pro at setting the perfect spread! With these tips and tricks, you’ll be able to impress your guests with the perfect formal holiday dinner. Whether you choose to go traditional or put your own personal twist on things, the most important thing is to create an atmosphere for your loved ones to enjoy. So go ahead and break out the china, silverware, and linens and get ready to celebrate in style this holiday season!


If you’re feeling inspired to host a holiday dinner or any special event, we’d love to help you plan the perfect occasion. Contact us for more information and keep an eye on our socials for more event-planning inspiration!


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